New Brunswick Day marks first major gathering since all public health restrictions lifted
Monday marks New Brunswick Day and one of the first major gatherings in the province since public health lifted all pandemic-related restrictions.
But amid the celebrations, there's still some concern with a double-digit jump in COVID-19 cases over the long weekend.
The public holiday was originally set as the target day for New Brunswick's Green phase of recovery.
But on July 23, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jennifer Russell announced the province would lift all mandatory public health orders on July 30, a few days early.
"It's been about two years since I've been actually out in public, I've actually taken a break since the pandemic hit and now I'm out with all my collection and enjoying the scene. It's great to be out again," says Peter Murchison, a wood carver and vendor.
A lively scene, with events going on throughout the day in the province's capital city provided a sense of normalcy that could take some getting used to.
"I won't lie, it's a little overwhelming seeing such a large group all at the same time, but it's nice to see that maybe a little of normalcy is coming back to the world," says Fredericton resident Paul Mansfield.
Some are embracing the new normal.
"It's a bit of shock, but government cleared us, so I'm happy, I'm good, I'm comfortable. Were outside especially, and especially at this stage in the game, get it while the getting's good," says Ethan Garnier, a UNB student.
However, New Brunswick has seen a spike in COVID-19 cases this weekend and Premier Blaine Higgs says the increase was not unexpected.
"It is concerning when we have like 18-per cent of our population that are eligible that haven't gotten their first vaccine and that's why even today we have a vaccine clinic right here, right next door," says Higgs.
There are currently 37 active cases in the province and as of Monday 67.9 percent of New Brunswick's eligible population has received both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Originally the province had set a target of 75 per cent being fully vaccinated before going Green.